CORDOVA — A couple from Argentina have traveled more than 25,000 miles in the past year to learn what connects the Cordovans and Cordobans of the world.
Laura Tallone and Dante Gonzalez, residents of Cordoba, Argentina, have already visited cities and towns named Cordova in Alaska, Illinois, Maryland, North Carolina and South Carolina, as well as Cordobas in Peru, Columbia and Veracruz, Mexico.
There are six other Cordovas in the U.S. that they are skipping because they must cross the border into Mexico by December.
They arrived in Walker County's Cordova, a namesake of Cordova, Veracruz, on Monday. After parking their camper and walking to City Hall, they were greeted by Heritage, the city's mule for the Walker County Arts Alliance's public art project, and were reminded of their Cordoba.
"The donkey is the symbol of our city," said Gonzalez, a filmmaker who is chronicling the trip for a documentary.
Photos and brief videos featuring several of the cities are available at lascordobas.com, as well as on Facebook and Instagram.
Cordoba, Argentina, which has a population of over 1,500,000, and Cordova, Alabama also share a pride in and respect for history.
Cordoba, the second largest city in Argentina, celebrates its founding annually.
"On the anniversary, always the newspapers talk about the other Cordovas in America and they have an interactive map on the website so you can see where they are," Tallone said.
In Cordova, Alabama, it is common knowledge that its founder, Captain Benjamin Long, named the town for a city in Mexico where he was stationed during the Mexican-American War.
"It is the first in the States that have a foundation and a history. In the other Cordovas, nobody knows why they have that name. Always we ask, and some say, 'I don't know. Maybe it is from Spain or maybe because the name is cute,'" Tallone said.
In Cordova, Illinois, even the local librarians could not answer the question and began doing their own research.
Tallone and Gonzalez visited Cordoba, Veracruz, while that city was celebrating its founding and met Ernesto Rivera Pernia. Pernia, a native of the Mexican Cordoba, has written a book about all of the places, including rivers and mountains, that derive their name from the original Cordoba, a city in southern Spain.
Though Cordova's population of roughly 2,000 has been on a steady decline in recent years, it is still one of the largest Cordovas that they have visited in the United States.
"This is big, like Alaska," said Tallone.
Cordova, Alaska, the site of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, also has a population of slightly over 2,000 and can only be reached by plane or ferry.
The population of Cordova, Illinois, is around 650. Cordova, Maryland's population is less than 600. Cordova, North Carolina, is an unincorporated community of less than 1,700 people, and Cordova, South Carolina, has less than 200 residents.
Though they differ in size, the various Cordovas that the two have visited share an emphasis on hospitality.
Gonzalez and Tallone say that they have been received warmly in all of their travels.
They expected to leave on Tuesday after interviewing Mayor Drew Gilbert.
Cordova has hosted filmmakers interested in its name once before. In May 1991, a team from Cordoba, Spain, stopped in Walker County on a trip dubbed "Ruta UAP de las Cordobas" or "UAP Route of Cordovas." The trip was sponsored Cordoba City Hall, Cordoba University and UAP, the second-largest insurance company in Europe at that time.